CALGARY, AB June 27, 2016 – A unified electricity grid that distributes hydro across western Canada may be the cheapest way for Alberta and Saskatchewan to add emission free electricity, a report from the Canada West Foundation concludes.

If the federal government is prepared to back strategic GHG emission reduction projects, then Ottawa should invest in interprovincial transmission lines to clean the grid and reduce Canada’s total emissions, write authors Naomi Christensen and Trevor McLeod.

A cost analysis in the report, called Power Up: The hydro option, reveals hydro, not wind, is the most cost-effective renewable energy source as the provinces work toward reducing electricity-based emissions. Natural gas has a role to play to help meet provincial emission reduction goals, but Alberta and Saskatchewan are also interested in renewable power that emits zero emissions.

The report assessed electricity choices on the basis of cost, GHG reductions, timeliness and reliability, said Christensen a policy analyst. “Hydro is as reliable as coal and more cost-effective than wind,” she said.

The report recommends that Alberta and Saskatchewan create rules that don’t disadvantage investment in hydro. Further, the western provinces should get behind an integrated electricity grid: Alberta and Saskatchewan are well-situated to import hydro from B.C. and Manitoba. And, the federal government should fund interprovincial electricity transmission lines in the West.

“The goal is to reduce emissions while doing the least amount of harm to the economy. That’s why hydro merits a serious look,” said McLeod, Director of the Centre for Natural Resources Policy.

The full version of Power Up: The hydro option can be downloaded here.